Maura Rogers and The Bellows
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Maura Rogers and The Bellows

Cleveland, Ohio, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2012 | SELF

Cleveland, Ohio, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2012
Band Americana Folk




"Maura Rogers & the Bellows Go Their Own Way with Latest Album ‘Always’"

After retooling the lineup, refining the songwriting and working with legendary producer Jim Wirt at Superior Sound Studios, Maura Rogers & the Bellows are back with new album Always.

The latest effort from the quintet — Rogers (vocals, guitar), Meredith Pangrace (accordion, vocals), Quinn Hyland (bass, vocals), Jeff Babinski (drums, vocals) and Al Moses (guitar) — is the follow-up to 2015’s In Light.

“My music generally tends to be very introspective, so there is a depth to everything I’m doing,” said Cleveland resident Rogers. “Compared to In Light, the new album has a very different energy. We may be examining similar themes, but Always has a life to it that the last album just didn’t because I couldn’t bring that to the table.

“I had lost both of my parents and left a very unhealthy relationship. Once I was able to move past those things, I felt kind of a rebirth in myself. My life just took a whole new direction. I got married, I’m expecting twins this summer. All of that energy has been fused in this new album.”

Something else that looms large over Always is the addition of Hyland, Babinski and Moses into the fold. The talented bunch perfectly rounded out and complimented the vision Rogers and Pangrace had for the act.

“I wanted to really focus on adding harmonies and vocals as another layer in the music,” Rogers said. “We were able to incorporate four-part harmonies at times into the album, which to me has always been a goal, but we just didn’t have the plethora of vocals that we now have in the current lineup.”

Specifically, Rogers said the addition of Moses as lead guitarist upped the ante.

“Al Moses has been a legendary blues guitarist in Cleveland for like three decades,” Rogers said. “He’s a phenomenal player, and he kind of graced himself into our life. He’s just one of the most talented human beings I’ve ever met. That he’s playing with us is very humbling and also a very exhilarating experience.

“He brings a layer of skill and talent that I think drives everybody else to perform in a way that they really want to show their chops. I hear that from each member in the band, so you’re going to hear that on the album.”

Rogers is expecting big things in 2019 from Maura Rogers & the Bellows, which has booked a CD release show for April 27 at Music Box Supper Club.

Not only will she soon be a mom, but the talented singer-songwriter also plans on promoting Always with dates outside of the Buckeye State. Previously the act has performed East Coast dates in New York City, Washington D.C. and Philadelphia; however, she admitted expanding the fanbase is more of a priority born out of Always.

“Having worked with Jim Wirt — who is an amazing producer, and has so much respect in the industry — has really opened the door for us as well,” Rogers said. “Having his hand in this, he really pulled out the best work in us and also has just helped us connect more with the industry.”

What Rogers is hoping fans connect with is the outfit’s unique alt-folk sound that now with the addition of Moses boasts a slight classic rock element. The singer said she feels like the music is a product of being such a big fan of Fleetwood Mac.

Invariably, there’s a confidence of style and direction coloring Maura Rogers & the Bellows’ current state of mind that is allowing the act to go its own way.

“I feel good about the way we’re going, I really do,” Rogers said. - Cool Cleveland

"Here's the New Music Video From the Local Act Maura Rogers & the Bellows"

Local singer-songwriter Maura Rogers started songwriting in college at Baldwin-Wallace’s noted music theater program, and she also worked for Great Lakes Theater Festival after college. She’s been a fixture on the local music scene for the past decade.

For Always, her latest album with her backing band the Bellows, she spent 11 days recording tracks with locally based producer Jim Wirt.

“Every note played on this album perfectly expresses the honesty of the songs,” says Wirt in a press release about the album. “Maura's voice is idyllic, unlike anyone I've ever worked with. It was a treat to be a part of this album."

The album represents the follow-up to 2015's In Light, and the band’s lineup now includes guitarist Al Moses, bassist Quinn Hyland and drummer Jeff Babinkski in addition to founding members Meredith Pangrace and Rogers. The album takes influence from classic rock acts such as Fleetwood Mac and indie acts such as Brandi Carlile and Sharon Van Etten. - Scene

"Finding a Friend and Lifesaver on Craigslist"

Musician Maura Rogers placed an online ad for a bandmate, and ended up getting the new kidney she desperately needed. - Good Housekeeping

"C-Notes Interview and EP Release Preview"

Posted By Jeff Niesel on Wed, Mar 9, 2016 at 12:29 pm

Last year, singer-songwriter Maura Rogers was so pleased with the progress she had made with her live band that she sought to document it in some way. The director who had helmed her previous music video was unavailable so she decided to bring in aspiring local director, Damien Campbell, to film some live footage.

Campbell and Regis Sedlock set up some six cameras throughout the club to capture the band playing four songs. They had a crew of Cleveland State film students in tow as well. The filming took an entire day and was a huge endeavor as Campbell went above and beyond the call of duty.

“We had to clean the stage off and hang lights and connect a projector to create an atmosphere,” says Rogers one afternoon with her fellow band mate, accordion player Meredith Pangrace, as the two sit in the office where Pangrace works as a freelance graphic designer.

Because Rogers says she and her band weren’t quite ready to record when they went to the studio last year for their most recent album, In Light, which they recorded with a new guitarist and two different drummers, they felt it was necessary to capture the band in its current state.

“We were never all together at the same time recording,” says Rogers. “As we played out more as a group, we realized how much energy we have and how that comes across when we’re all together.”

Over the past summer, the band played out regularly. Beachland co-owner Cindy Barber, a huge supporter, let them use her club for a day for the taping and the band members recruited about 50 “high-energy” fans and let the cameras roll. The sessions went so well, the band will release four live video clips on its website and it's even turned the performance into a live EP. They celebrate the release of the videos and the EP with a show on March 19 at the Beachland. On "Battle Cry," Rogers defiantly sings, "I'm doing the best that I can" over an Indigo Girls-like blend of folk and rock. With its catchy guitar riff, "Jailhouse with Jesus" comes off as free wheeling and playful, particularly when Pangrace launches into a mid-song accordion solo and Istvan Medgyesi follows her with a gritty guitar solo that's equally high-energy. The song's call-and-response vocals work particularly well too.
“We didn’t intend to put out a live EP, but the sound turned out really well,” says Pangrace.

Rogers, who studied theater, English and voice at Baldwin Wallace, initially worked for Great Lakes Theater Festival after college. She then moved to New York for a short spell. After returning to Northeast Ohio, she worked again for Great Lakes Theatre, devoting a good chunk of time to an Ohio history play based on stories told by people from across the state.

“I loved it,” she says of working for Great Lakes Theatre Festival. “The experience was fantastic. Working at the rehearsal spaces was great and working among artists was something I really fell in love with. I just loved being surrounded by artists.”

In June of 2010, she released her first solo album, Get Up Girl, which she recorded at SUMA Recording in Painesville.

“I was very fresh, I was very green, I was very new,” she says when asked about the release. “I had no idea what I was getting into. I had the support of the local folk crowd. It’s kind of funny because I felt like that shaped what I was doing. I hadn’t defined my sound yet. I hadn’t tested my voice yet. With the limited guitar skills I had at the time, I didn’t know what I could do to support the lyrics and vocals on my own. It was a good learning experience.”

She even embarked on a mini-tour that summer. Then, bassist Brent Stowe wrote her and asked if she wanted to work with a band. They met at the Barking Spider and assembled the first formation of her backing band, the Bellows.

Accordion player Meredith Pangrace came courtesy of a Craiglist ad that Rogers posted. She was the only person who responded to the request for an accordion player.

“I troll Craiglist all the time for anything accordion-related: repair people, what to buy,” says Pangrace. “It’s a niche so I have to try to find people somehow.”

In 2012, Rogers and the Bellows released A Good Heart Will Break.

“It was amazing,” says Rogers when asked about the recording sessions for the album. “I was in kidney failure. All bullshit was set aside. We just wanted to rally to get it done to the best of our abilities.”

Local producer Kevin Montgomery, who now runs his Standby Rolling studio out of his Cleveland Heights home, saw the band at the Barking Spider and offered to make their album. At the time, he was enrolled in Tri-C’s Recording Arts Technology program, so he had access to some first-rate production equipment. And it wouldn't cost a fortune to record the album.

“It was rushed but very positive,” says Rogers.

Two weeks later, Pangrace donated a kidney to Rogers.

“We didn’t even know if we would be alive,” says Pangrace with a laugh. “We could have both died or the kidney might not have worked.”

But the kidney did work, and the group has soldiered on. Last year’s In Light came out in May. The majority of the current lineup plays on the album, and Rogers says it might be the closest approximation to what the band’s true sound is.

“I think we’re getting closer to tapping into what our sound is,” she says. “We’re defining our roles better. The presence of Meredith in the songs is more pronounced. That’s what I wanted. I think what she does is integral to what I hear in my head. [Guitarist] Istvan Medgyesi has evolved into the sound of the band. Because it wasn’t recorded with us all together, it lacks that chemistry and energy that you hear when we’re in the same room together.”

The four songs on the band’s new EP suggest an evolving sound that compares favorably to indie folk rock acts such as the Decemberists and Neko Case.

“I think that’s something we’ve been working on a lot as a band in terms of bringing music to rehearsal and listening to songs and seeing how the different instruments work well together and support a female vocalist,” she says. “We’ve been listening to [alt-country singer-songwriter] Neko Case. I connect to her because she had a rock edge but then she pulls out a folk or country song and can make that work. She has created this musicianship around her so there’s a cohesive sound that showcases her voice and lyrics. That’s a lot of our approach. The vocal harmonies help too. I think of that as another instrument itself.”

Acts such as Troubadours of Divine Bliss, Ani DiFranco and the Indigo Girls serve as inspirations too.

“I think our duo stuff is very similar to the Troubadours of Divine Bliss,” says Pangrace. “That’s what I aspire to. I like how the fills compliment the melodies. If the accordion drives the song, you’re a polka band, and that’s not what we want to be. What they do with their harmonies is amazing.”

Polka comparisons notwithstanding, Rogers hopes to seamlessly incorporate the accordion into her music.

“I want to make the accordion fit into every song,” says Rogers. “As we get louder, it’s more challenging to have an acoustic instrument. I don’t think it has to be the dominant sound in every song but I think it should be a part of every song.”

Rogers says she has some songs that didn’t make the last studio album. She imagines they’ll appear on the next record, which she's anxious to record.

“We do have new material,” says Rogers, adding that she wants to take the band on tour to cities outside of Cleveland. “We have stuff that just wasn’t ready yet. We did the last album thanks to a Kickstarter. Our fans have been tremendously supportive. I think we’re going at it in a way we have never gone at it before. We’re approaching it more seriously. We have more visibility now than we've had in the past. I feel the freedom to give more to this than I have previously. I think the next goal is to capture that experience of us playing together somewhere — maybe a castle. Like Fleetwood Mac, but without the drama.”

Maura Rogers and the Bellows, Morgan Mecaskey, Noon, 8 p.m. Saturday, March 19, Beachland Tavern, 15711 Waterloo Rd., 216-383-1124. Tickets: $10 ADV, $12 DOS, - Scene Magazine

"Local Bands Locals Love"

Sam Fryberger, as well as social media followers, also recommended Maura Rogers & The Bellows, a group that brings tremendous heart to their music. "Backed by her terrific band, the Bellows, this alt folk chanteuse lays bare her life stories in her music," Fryberger said. "After enduring kidney failure that resulted in a transplant (donated by her accordion player), Rogers wrote an album about her ability to overcome adversity. - This Is Cleveland

"Cleveland Magazine: Summer Fun Guide 2015"

Less than a year after folksy singer-songwriter Maura Rogers received a kidney transplant from a bandmate, she lost her mother. "The album is about the balance between having a second chance at life and losing someone so important to me," she says. My Favorite Summer Event: Rogers views festivals as a testing ground for new music. "It's the best feeling when we look out from the stage and see kids stop to listen and start dancing," she says. See Her: Larchmere PorchFest, June 20 - Cleveland Magazine

"Maura Rogers Brings Life Experience to New CD"

Maura Rogers is relatively new to the area music scene — she started to get her name out about six-seven years ago at open mics. A few years on the singer-songwriter circuit culminated in a 2010 solo album Get Up Girl. Soon after that, she began working with additional musicians, leading to the five-piece Maura Rogers & the Bellows. That lineup, together for two years, recorded A Good Heart Will Break, which they’ll release with a show at 6:30 p.m. this Saturday night at the Beachland Tavern.

“It was such a transition,” says Rogers. “I thought, ‘Holy hell, this is hard work.’ It was so much more sound.”

Rogers took up songwriting over a decade ago in college at Baldwin-Wallace’s noted music theater program. She worked for Great Lakes Theater Festival after college, working on an Ohio history play based on stories told by people from across the state.

“It was one of the most important jobs I’ve done with my life,” she says. “ Storytelling is part of who I am and oral history is one way of doing that. Writing songs is another. She says that while her writing is influenced by artists ranging from Patty Griffin and Cyndi Lauper to Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton and Nina Simone, “Life experiences shape the way I tell stories.”

“Being last of nine children I grew up watching my brothers and sisters and learning a lot about relationships,” she says. “Music was always a part of our home. It became a way of expression for me. As far as I can remember I was always singing. It was part of who I was.”

A less upbeat but still influential part of her experience is the kidney transplant she’ll have soon after the CD release show, putting her out of commission for a to-be-determined period.

“You’ll hear it on some of the tracks,” she says. “I’m looking at life with bigger, deeper perspective, not just love songs. Having to accept that somebody else is going to save my life, there will probably be a whole new album on that alone. It’s a humbling experience. I struggled with why is this going on, but I’ve learned a lot about myself and the people in my life, about making the most of the situation you’re given.”

Even though she didn’t know her band members — drummer Dan Jankowski, guitarist Andy Laiskos, bassist Brent Stowe, and accordionist Meredith Pangrace — prior to playing with them and found them mostly through Craigslist, she says they’re her bulwark.

“We worked really hard knowing the time frame we had before I jump into the next period of my life,” she says. “Each member of the band has a real commitment to the project. I’ve known Meredith two years and she might be my kidney donor. She’s the best match I have so far.” - Scene Magazine

"Maura Rogers at the Beachland"

It’s good to have Maura Rogers back on the circuit again following her kidney transplant last year.

The ebullient performer with the crisp, sparkling voice released her CD A Good Heart Will Break last July before taking time off for her operation and recovery. It’s filled with the kind of warm and heartfelt folk-rock tunes that can quickly feel like long-loved favorites. She performs at the Beachland Tavern with her band the Bellows, which includes her organ donor, accordionist Meredith Pangrace. Nate Jones and Joey Beltram open. Admission is $5 - Cool Cleveland

"Maura Rogers and The Bellows breaks out stronger, more confident sophomore album"

It's a new day in many ways for singer-songwriter Maura Rogers, who is about to release her sophomore album "A Good Heart Will Break," which is her first project with new backing band the Bellows.

"While my first CD, 'Get Up Girl,' was a big step for me, there's a vulnerability on that album and a delicacy for sure. I feel a little bit more confident, just sure of myself and my voice on this new album," said Rogers, a 1995 Wickliffe High School graduate.

"Not only does that come from working with a band and understanding my voice more as an instrument, but also just with the life experiences I've had in the last few years."

Whereas her previous effort was pure folk, Rogers said the new album falls squarely in the Americana genre, with the accordion-driven "Norma Jean" epitomizing her sound. While she admits music is her life, right now her life requires a kidney transplant, which Rogers said is scheduled to happen within a few weeks. Her donor could possibly be one of her band members being tested for a match.

"There's a little twist to our group because I don't know how many bands have somebody saving another person's life," Rogers said. "That's what is really unique about this, it's about the music but it's about a lot of other things." - The Plain Dealer

"CD Review: Maura Rogers & the Bellow"

Singer-guitarist Maura Rogers has spent the last couple of years coping with serious health issues (she just recently underwent a kidney transplant), and in the lyrics here you can hear the emotional toll that has taken on her. On "Cowboy Song," she sings about getting "caught up in a memory" and her frustrating search for true love. While it doesn't stray from themes expressed in the other songs, the rave-up "Good Harm" provides a good kick in the pants as Rogers lets the band loose; she has to really wail just to be heard above the din. The accordion-driven "Something More" has a good, freewheeling energy, too. The album-closing "What the Doctor Said" is a somber autobiographical ballad in which Rogers says she would "rather go out singing" than take the doctor's orders and put aside her music. It's a triumphant final statement that really rings true. – Jeff Niesel - Scene Magazine



Maura Roger’s passionate vocals and prolific songwriting are supported by lush harmonies, a dynamic rhythm section, and intricate arrangements that balance emotional accordion and guitar leads. Their long anticipated third album, Always —produced by Jim Wirt (Fiona Apple, Lake Street Dive, Incubus), proves to be the band’s best work to date and delivers a cohesive collection of brilliant musicianship.

The musical history of founding band members, Maura Rogers and Meredith Pangrace, began with a life-saving kidney transplant in 2012, and the evolution of their musical collaboration is both compelling and inspiring. Selling out Cleveland’s top venues, they continue to captivate audiences with their powerful live performances. At the root of music is the capacity to move others, and the band achieves it with honesty and fervor.

Adding Al Moses on lead guitar, Quinn Hyland on bass, and Jeff Babinkski on drums has brought a whole new energy, embracing influences from classic rock’s Fleetwood Mac to modern female powerhouses like Brandi Carlile and Sharon Van Etten.

The new album is a huge stepping stone for this well-established Americana band. It defines a mature sound finessed by Wirt’s engineering skills and the band’s new sound.

Band Members